Syzygy by Michael G. Coney

Here's some quick comments by Alexandre Grand-Clement...
Comments on "Syzygy" (spoilers avoided):
As I mentioned to Bryan, this was the very first SF novel I read some fifteen years ago, and really the one that got me started. Still, I was braced for a dissapointment as I started to reread it, but that proved to be needless as it had withstood the test of age (and memory). I enjoyed it (almost) as much as when I first read it.

I liked the quick and concise telling, dropping the reader in the story as the action starts w/o lengthy preliminaries, letting one catch up on the background as one goes. That is praiseworthy and sadly a rare thing nowadays, or is it just me ?

I also liked the way he described Arcadia, an earth-like planet : no big difference with Earth, wich I somehow find all the more beleivable. A simple ecosystem with some parallell evolution, except of course for the Mind. Now that is an original imagination of an alien intelligence. I mean all too often I read about aliens that have what is basically a human psychological setup with a few twists. Felines seems to be a preferred vase into wich is poured a human mind (yes, I'm thinking Kzinti here, but also McCaffrey's _Decision_at_Doona_, and many others, come to think of it, Coney himself... see addendum). Coney does away with that and builds it from the ground up, wich is the way it should be done. Of course he could have developped it a bit, but I'd rather having him stopping short than overdoing it (that old quantity versus quality debate). I still prefer to read about crustaceans with a basic intelligence (even if they smell of fish) than yet another wishful description of a creature superior to humans in every respect, sprung from a primeval (sp?) human fear of predators and a feeling of inadequacy, like if humans shouldn't evolved in the first place. But I do have a few gripes : what I could tell from Coneys webpage (lost the URL, but do a search on *Michael+G+Coney* and you should find it, not much content though) is that he's mainly into children's books, and to put it bluntly I think it shows in his SF production : I have a feeling he's simplifying his language and there this is didactic ghost just round the corner. I'd like to see Coney writing more clearly at an adult audience, and no, I don't mean sprinkling random sex in his writing.

Overall I liked it, Coney shows craftmanship and originality and I rate
three and a half alexes out of five

Short addendum : Coney does write about cat people, but these are humans with feline genes, not aliens from a distant planet that have come to claw out your guts and eat you, or purringly seduce you as the case may be.


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